GV monitoring printer waste

Samantha Belcher

Grand Valley State University is one of the only universities in Michigan that provides free printing for all students, but the amount of paper waste is a large problem.

From Saturday to Feb. 24, Information Technology will study how much printer paper is wasted in computer labs and classrooms. IT staff members will estimate the amount of paper that gets recycled by putting it into boxes.

Jayne Dissette, academic systems supervisor, said the university tries to measure how much paper is wasted each semester.

“It allows students to see how their resources are being used,” Dissette said.

Bart Bartels, director of GVSU’s Sustainability Initiative, said some students print e-books and long articles, then do not claim the majority of pages printed.

Sue Korzinek, director of Information Technology, said 30 to 33 percent of printed paper gets wasted and recycled on campus.

Bartels added that most universities have a limit to how much paper a student can print. “I think there should be a limit for those that abuse its use,” he said.

Dissette added that she hopes instructors talk to their students about using less paper. “We can’t help but notice how much paper is being printed and not used,” she said.

In order to decrease the amount of paper used, all GVSU printers started printing on both sides of a sheet in fall 2009, which Korzinek said has helped to reduce paper usage.

GVSU prints about 20 million sheets of paper each year.

New printers will be put into the Mary Idema Pew Library and Seidman College of Business Building when the projects are completed.

With the new printers, students will be able to send their assignments to the printer, but then they have to release the assignment at the printer.

Korzinek said this method would reduce the amount of paper used because students can choose not to release the assignment if they accidentally chose to print it.

The new printers will also track the average number of pages each student prints, although no official limit is being imposed.

The student to printer ratio at GVSU is about 425 students to every one printer on the Allendale and Pew campuses. Although Korzinek said she has not received formal complaints from students about a lack of printers, many students voice concerns among themselves that the university does not have enough printers to accommodate all the students using them.

Korzinek said each printer costs about $4,000 and last about three to four years. Certified IT technicians respond with replacement parts when broken printers are reported.

“We try to make them last as long as possible,” she said.

IT does not have plans to increase the number of printers on campus, but only replace broken ones if needed.

Korzinek said printers can be fixed within an hour if they are reported to IT, but many broken printers on campus do not get reported for days or weeks.

“Sometimes it gets difficult when people do not report it,” Korzinek said.

To submit an IT request, call 616-331-2101.

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